Category Archives: Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga Confession: how I lost my practice.

by Barbora Simek

Forgive me Bikram for I have sinned, it has been 6 years since my last yoga challenge.

I don’t really know how it happened.

Image

My bow pose and I, 2010.

When I returned from teacher training I couldn’t get enough of the practice. Yoga was my life. All I cared about was doing the standing splits, touching my forehead to my toes, eating better, hydrating  more and sleeping consistently.

I didn’t eat dairy, wheat or sugar. I didn’t go out. I practiced five or six days a week. I taught 12 classes a week, sometimes 14, I hung out at the yoga studio. I journaled about the things I learned about myself in class. I didn’t drink.

But I was 19 Bikram! Just a kid. And I hadn’t let myself be a kid. There I was, hyper-disciplined, making yoga my life when it hit me: I wanted more.

I wanted to see what it was like to dance till 5am. I wanted to follow other career paths. I wanted to eat wheat and dairy. I wanted to be friends with more than my water bottle and naturopath.

Soon, the desire to escape my self-imposed discipline grew so strong that I started crying an hour before class. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to judge myself in the mirror. I didn’t want to obsess about standing bow or the amount of sugar in my diet.

I wanted a bit of freedom.

I blamed the yoga.

It was foolish, Bikram, I know. But it was so easy to point a finger at the most consistent and disciplined thing in my life: my practice.

I began to resent my standing bow. I stopped trying in forward stretching. I danced till dawn. I ate dairy and wheat. I began skipping class. I stopped being disciplined.

Days, weeks, months went by. It took me 3 months to want to be in the yoga room again. Slowly, inconsistently, I started practicing again. I didn’t love the hot room anymore, I was still mad at the practice. But I was trying.

After another year it became clear that it wasn’t the yoga, but it was me.

I began to understand that I wasn’t being true to myself. I had forgotten that I practice so that yoga can enrich my life but not become my life. I didn’t want to be a career yogi, but a yogi with a career.

I forgot to honour that I was both the girl who loved dancing and the girl that loved working hard.

In a way, diving so deeply into the practice taught me the most valuable lesson of all: that we must all follow our own path and stay true to our spirit. You talk about it all the time Bikram. How yoga teaches us self realization. How our practice teaches us to like and love ourselves.

And so here I am nine years into my practice, about to turn 26.

For the first time I am ready to love both parts of me, the girl that loves to stay up dancing until 5am and the girl who loves to eat fresh salads and work on her standing bow.

So I am trying again. I am ready to welcome some discipline back into my life.

For 30 days, I am going to show up and try. I will still drink lattes and eat pastries but I will also dream of standing bow and touching my forehead to toes. Let’s see what we can make happen in 30 days.

See you in the hot room, Bikram.

Love,

Barb

11 Comments

Filed under Bikram Yoga, Diary of a Yogi, Yoga Challenge

OMB Conversation: it’s all in the Details

by Barbora Simek

 

The February 2011 issue of Details Magazine featured a full article on Bikram Yoga under a gasp-inducing title. The Overheated, Oversexed Cult of Bikram Choudhury, was undoubtably sold to an editor as a racy behind the scenes expose into the culture and sexlives of teacher trainees. Understandably, many of the yogis in the Bikram community have stood up to declare their disappointment and outrage at the content. At OMB we want to know what you think of Bikram’s latest press scandal.

Here is what I think…

The article describes the routine of teacher training from the perspective of an outsider, while exploring the sex lives of male trainees. And to be honest, for any guy going to training in hopes of finding a mate, the odds are stacked in their favor. I know few men who go to training and DON’T take advantage of these odds. Relationships, flings, marriages and more start at training and it is no secret. While the drastic majority of teacher trainees take to heart Bikrams “no kissy kissy…” instructions, the majority of male trainees indulge in the opportunity before them.

Some people on the Details page call for the writer to be barred from his profession as a professor while others lecture that he has missed the point of yoga. I would argue, that many of these people have missed the point of journalism.

More after the jump… Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under About Bikram Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Links, News, Teacher Training

Sweat the Small Stuff: a photo essay

by Barbora Simek (text) and Caitlin Hicks (photos)

Photographer and yogini Caitlin Hicks joins OMB with her stunning yoga photo essay. Hicks is a fourth-year photography student at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). The images below are a part of her final project in which she photographs yogis of Bikram Yoga Toronto.

“In photographing this series, I aimed to get away from the idea of photographing each pose, instead I examined the intense form and focus that is required throughout the 26 postures,” said Hicks.

More after the Jump….

Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under About Bikram Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Bikram Yoga Toronto, Photos

An open letter to a new student on their first class

by Barbora Simek

Dear New Student,

Welcome. Like it or not you are now a part of the Bikram Yoga family. Whether today’s class will become something that is laughed about with friends and never attempted again, a daily routine, an occasional pass time or obsession, your experience today will stay with you forever. This means I have ninety minutes, and ninety minutes only to show you a practice I have dedicated a part of my life, my heart and much of my body to. So listen carefully, because this is important, this can change your life in ways you never thought possible.

I know the room is hot, and the poses are difficult. This is not because we are trying to prove something. This is because these specific elements: the postures, the heat, the mirrors, the style of teaching — are the perfectly combined to heal your body, heart and mind.

I know there are a lot of people. This is not because the studio is interested in a big pay-day. This is because the more we can practice together, the more we can share energy. Your neighbors will help you get through class, inspire you, become your friends and maybe even your future fiance (it’s happened more than once!) So be kind. Be patient. Because the more patient you can be with people here, the more patient you will be with them out there in the world.

I know my voice is loud. This is not because I want to dominate you. My voice is the best tool I have, along with the dialogue (the directions), to help you through your class today. When you feel weak, my voice will be strong to support you. When you are tired Continue reading

86 Comments

Filed under About Bikram Yoga, Bikram Yoga

Inspiration: Bikram Yoga Forest Hill’s Challenge

As January gets rolling, many new and regular yogis are getting started on their New Year’s resolutions whether it is by making new commitments to their practice or starting 30, 60 or 90 Day Challenges. To help all you yogis get inspired and in the mood, OMB brings you coverage of the most consistently successful challenge in Toronto (perhaps even Canada): The Bikram Yoga Forest Hill 30 Day Challenge.

The Bikram Yoga Forest Hill Challengers

Each time director Janice Guertin throws up a 30 Day Challenge, her students rush to sign up. This past November, over 65 yogis signed their name to take part in BYFH’s bi-annual challenge. Some of them chose to sign up because they wanted to see a change in their lives, bodies or well being, others wanted to step up and challenge themselves, but all were looking forward to the wonderful sense of community and excitement that fills the studio each time Janice throws the event.

OMB went to their fun and exciting 30 Day Challenge Party to see what all the buzz was about and to chat with some of the students who made it through their 30 Days. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Bikram Yoga, Bikram Yoga Forest Hill, Bikram Yoga News, Bikram Yoga Toronto Events, Daily Feature

Dreamin’ Big: the birth of Onzie

by Lauren Balefsky


I was born into a generation of dreamers.

My dad told me to “be happy,” and my Mom told me to “make my passion my career.” Sound familiar and slightly unrealistic?  I took these simple guidelines and, after some trial and error, chose the career of “yoga teacher.” If you also practice Bikram Yoga, you can understand how this yoga became my obsession, and in turn my passion.  I thought my calling was to teach yoga.  I had found happiness and passion.  I was set for life…sort of.

Some people are completely content to just teach yoga, but not this is necessarily true of a BIKRAM Yogi.

Allow me to introduce myself:  I am an overly emotional, type-A, perfectionist with a degree from Northwestern University.  (Though now that I am a yoga teacher those qualities are much less intrusive in my life).  Are you relating yet?  

I soon discovered that to make my yogi euphoria last for a lifetime, I would have to take it to the next level.  I started truly dreaming.  THIS is what my parents meant.  I realized in order to be successful you must allow yourself to find greatness in the passions you possess.  I started by asking the universe for something more that involved yoga.

Bikram Yoga became the facilitator of my dreams, instead of being my dream.

I searched the jobs online, and opened myself to new possibilities.  In early 2010, I got a call from my friend Miriam from Teacher Training.  A fellow Los Angeles resident and a second mother to me,  she was starting a clothing line with her daughter based around a simple one-piece leotard.  She knew that I loved wearing one-pieces and immediately asked that I be involved.

Onzie was born.

Let me tell you about my fashion history.  In high school I was the girl that did not quite fit in.  When everyone shopped at J Crew, I would find black shiny leggings and a cool top from a trendy store.  It wasn’t that I lacked style, I just did not conform to the “norm.”

This repeated itself in my yoga practice.

The day I decided to do the Southern CA competition three years ago, I went to a dance store to buy a leotard.  Since I was not a dancer I was not used to the fit.  I immediately loved the sleek feeling of practicing in a one-peice but was uncomfortable with the high cut bodice.

I started buying a size bigger so that I could pull the bottom of the leotard down to make it look like a 50’s bathing suit.  Compliments poured in.  At the time, I had to explain that I was adjusting a dance leotard, but not anymore.  Onzie has answered my yoga prayers.

Onzie is bringing back the original Bikram Yoga “costume” in a modern way. Starting small we designed two styles, a “classic” and “shortie” leotard in one size with to slowly add new styles.  To flatter all body types, we used solid colours and breathable, durable, Free Flow Fabric.  This fast-drying material keeps yogis feel cool and comfortable throughout class.

Our debut was at the International Yoga Competition this past year: a perfect launch platform.  We attracted a lot of women, young and old, that were curious about practicing in a one-piece.  Many girls tried it and were pleasantly surprised.  We collected feedback on sizing, cut, color, lining and alternative style options.  Being new to the fashion industry, I was surprised how one must be on their toes.  With all this feedback we got right to work designing prototypes and quickly turned around to launch the official spring/summer line within weeks.

Miriam’s garage (no joke) became a makeshift showroom, office and shipping center.  Since April 2010, we have sold out of that line!  You can spot the Onzie brand all over the US and Canada.  Our fall/winter line comes out November 1st, 2010!  (You can view it on www.theonzie.com)

The inspiration behind Onzie will always be the classic women’s yoga costume, but we decided to branch out even more.  We want our women to feel comfortable, cute, and excited when they wear our collection.  We have already added a bandeau top and matching shorts per requests of customers.

Our fall collection includes more modest selections for women who don’t want to show too much skin, as well as a new short for the men.  We are learning more about yogis who inspire us. We visited teacher training and talked to so many types of women from all over the world.  Each of them had ideas and opinions.  Most importantly, they were so happy to get a new outfit.  It seems so juvenile, but I know that feeling!  I love yoga, fashion, and making people feel good!  Onzie is an outlet for all three.

I hold high expectations for the future of our small clothing business. I believe in our cause.  The three of us love what we do.  Each day presents new challenges, ideas, and careful investment.  I never feel that hours are wasted pursuing sales and making contacts.  I love meeting new people, especially Bikram Yogis, all over the world!

Onzie was a blessing that came because I opened myself up to greatness.  If you are looking to start a business, whether in the fashion industry or not, it is important to dream big.  Anything is possible, especially when you have Bikram Yoga on your side.

5 tips to help you start your own clothing line:

1.Think of a niche that is missing in the current market, or a way you can bring back an old trend.
2.Have a partner.  It is always good to have a sounding board for new ideas.
3.Get feedback.  Do not be afraid to ask for help and ask potential customers what they want!
4.Prepare a 5-year plan.  Plan to NOT make your main income from this business right away.  It takes time to build a network.
5.Use the Internet!  Modern technology is mainly free and there is so much opportunity out there.

Contact Info:
Lauren Balefsky, Onzie Sales Manager
Lauren@theonzie.com
323-420-6589
http://www.theonzie.com

1 Comment

Filed under Bikram Yoga, Daily Feature, Guest Blog